"We took £1.80 all day": Reality of the pandemic hits independent Preston cafe

Since reopening, Ultimate Cafe, at Deepdale's Go Outdoors, took just £1.80 in a full day of trade by a customer just wanting to use the toilets.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 9:02 pm
Manager Kat took just 1.80 in a day

It's no secret that many independent businesses, whether that be limited companies or small franchises have found the return to reality a struggle after the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ultimate Cafe, in Preston's Go Outdoors at Deepdale took just £1.80 in a day last week, by a customer who bought a bottle of water just to use the bathroom at the cafe.

Andrea Edwards co-owns the franchise with business partner Nicola Lee, and said that the discretionary grant from Preston City Council won't be able to save them.

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The empty cafe at Deepdale's Go Outdoors.

"We have been trading for over six years and have been profitable for the whole time we have been in business. We have fabulous staff and a great community spirit in all our locations," said Andrea, from Liverpool.

"Although the government have supported us and my staff with furlough, the fear for when the scheme is lifted is absolutely real. To run a business and have no idea if you will even sell anything in a day is absolutely soul destroying for us.

"Not just financially, but it impacts the guys who go to open up our shops every day wondering whether they will have a job in the next few months. I am determined to find ways we can grow our sales, because we don't give up easily in hospitality."

Since July 4, cafe's, restaurants and pubs were able to reopen as part of easing lockdown measures in the UK.

The Preston cafe sat empty again today.

But with Ultimate Cafe, in Preston, taking a mere £1.80 in a full day of trade, Manager Kat Jordan worries that the high street, that she deems to be "the heart of the community" is becoming lost.

She said: "A lot of people don't know we are here, and I don't think there's too many people going out to eat or drink at the minute because they are trying to stay safe.

"We have also been on delivery platforms but are still not making enough to warrant normal opening times or operating our regular menu. It is has been a real struggle because we are wasting money on products which we have had to waste.

"There is only three members of staff working at the moment because we cannot justify the cost of having more of us. We are all fearful for our jobs going forward."

1.80 was taken from a customer who only wanted to use the bathroom.

According to manager Kat, who has worked at the kiosk for three years, the other members of staff at the cafe are worried about the stability of their jobs in the coming months.

"The two girls working with us at the minute are struggling and worrying that business wont pick up and they will end up out of a job, so I am trying to give them support and understand that Andrea is doing everything she can because she doesn't want to lose the business or her livelihood," she said.

"It is a great shame and big issue for all of us that are employed in hospitality. I don't think people understand how difficult this has been for us, it's such a difficult feeling to take just £1.80 the whole day and it's frightening to think this is what its come to."

Business owner Andrea is hopeful that by adhering to the government guidelines and ensuring the safety of staff and customers is paramount, that the independent business will climb back onto their feet in the future.

In eleven years of business, she claims that she has always felt she has "known her direction and purpose" and now can't plan more than two weeks ahead, putting her business plans on hold.

"We need people to know that we are here and for people to realise they can feel safe in our shops and continue to support us. It is really important for our customers to know we value staff and customer safety.

"You can easily dine in our coffee shop safely and we hope that our older demographic can begin to feel safe again on the high street when masks are introduced by the government."

Information about opening times and the Ultimate Outdoor cafe franchise is available on their Facebook page.